ORLANDO — A word of advice to the people of Orlando: Before you step outside Thursday or send your pet out into the backyard, take a little extra time to look around first.
Especially if you live near the 4800 block of North Apopka Vineland Road.
There’s a king cobra on the loose.
The snake’s owner, Mike Kennedy, describes him as 8 feet long — not very big as king cobras go — but still a very venomous visitor to Central Florida.
The snake escaped from his cage because of weather-related events, Kennedy said.
After a series of storms, a limb fell on the house, where the snake’s cage is located. The ensuing flooding allowed the snake to escape its cage.
Currently 10 people are searching the 10-acre property where the king cobra went missing, including a Kennedy team and one from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). They’re all experienced snake handlers, according to the FWC.
An FWC biologist is assisting in the capture plan, and officers are patrolling a nearby elementary school.
Kennedy was upset by the snake escape.
“It’s horrible that this has happened,” he said. “It has been incredibly traumatic for me and my family.”
The situation is his “worst nightmare,” he added.
Kennedy is licensed to own the deadly snakes and told authorities that the other venomous snakes, including a female king cobra, in his home are in their enclosures. The missing snake slithered out within the past 24 hours, wildlife officials said Wednesday afternoon.
The snake is green and white and is probably hunting for other snakes, lizards or small mammals.
It probably won’t be easy to find the snake. The area is very densely wooded. “All it wants to do is stay hidden,” Kennedy said. However, he believes it’s within 100 yards of the building because it’s not acclimated to captivity and afraid of human interaction.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission advises that if you come across the snake, do not try to catch it.
According to National Geographic, king cobras are shy when it comes to humans, but if cornered, they get riled up. A bite from one can kill an elephant.
Nevertheless, Kennedy points out that it’s unlikely anyone will be bitten.
“Getting struck by lightning is much more likely than being hurt by this animal,” he said.
Still, remember that point to look around first.